Showing posts with label alternative energy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label alternative energy. Show all posts

Friday, December 27, 2013

2014 New Years Resolutions- Soliciting Input

I am going to try a different way of breaking these up this year. More by function than anything else.

Edited to include: the stuff in light grey are long shots. By long shots I mean they are not realistically funded based on projected levels of spending. Admittedly this is pretty unscientific since I do not have an exact projected preps budget that is divided amongst different areas. It's probably more of a gut feeling based on the last few years of what I will realistically be able to do than anything else.

Shoot
Skills:
Attend a quality defensive pistol course. Scheduled in one for early 2014.
Try to attend an Appleseed if I can. Due to scheduling and other life stuff this is a long shot.
Following said defensive pistol course begin a dry fire regimen.
Shoot more often. Ideally at least monthly but certainly not more than bi monthly.

Stuff:
Finish the 870 P project. Refinish, light, sling, ammo cards, ammo holding system to match.
Get a .30 cal precision rifle almost surely a .308.
I have been semi casually looking for a single shot 12 gauge shotgun to go all Dave Canterbury. If I find one I will buy it.
Set up the big wheel gun the way I want it. Grips, holster, belt, speed loaders, etc all
Put nice grips on the 642 like Alexander Wolfe's.
 Maybe start on an AR pistol

Consumables and minor stuff:
250 rounds buckshot
250 rounds #4 shot
250 slugs
Get a quality kydex outside waistband Glock holster with mag pouches to match
4 Ruger 10/22 BXP mags
A case of 5.56 ammo
A stripped AR-15 lower receiver
Long shot a case of 9mm FMJ and a second case of 5.56 ammo
10 each PMAGs
 6x Glock 17 mags
I can always use another 10/22 or a Glock 19 but those are big time long shots.


Move
Fitness:
Run more, keeping better track of it. Maybe do a marathon or something.
Keep up a decent weight lifting regimen with hard circuit based body weight type stuff.
Generally keep on doing good things

Stuff:
Break in all extra boots that are currently accessible.
Not sure exactly where this fits but I want to firm up our heavy (vehicle) bug out packing list then have that stuff ready to go. Also continue developing all of our systems
Purchase a small enclosed trailer. 

Communicate:
Skills: Get a ham radio license
Get better with HTLM and web coding stuff (any advice would be great)

Stuff:
Get a ham radio, probably one of the little Baeofong (spelling) setups to start.
Get a set of 2 (4 would be better) good FRS radios with head sets. I have a pair in storage that might work but I've got to test them.
Get a scanner 

Sustain:
Keep building our food supply to the interim goal of having a year's worth for 4 people
Get chickens
Start growing some herbs n stuff. Maybe sprouts too.

Survive:
Continue to improve our cache situation
Work to develop primitive skills
Pick up another full tang medium sized survival/ general purpose knife or maybe two plus stuff to round out some of the redundant parts of my various kits
Get 3-4 more wool blankets

Alternative Energy:
Skills: Use the stuff we have more to figure out how to make it work for our needs. This includes a good plan for charging Wifey's smart phone on the go.

Stuff : Wifey mentioned wanting to get a generator before hurricane season. We are far enough North in Louisiana so as to avoid utter destruction but can definitely lose power. A buddy up here lost power for a week during Rita. This worried Wifey. So we might just get a generator. Probably an EU 2000 like Zero has.

Stashing a half dozen or so military gas cans would be nice. Enough gas to completely fill up both our vehicles twice and run a genny enough to keep the freezer cold, charge batteries and watch a bit of news for at least 2 weeks (a month would be better) would be great. Got to do some math on that one.

That's what I have planned for this coming year. If there are any major changes as things calm down I'll publish a final draft, otherwise I'll run with this one.

What do you plan to do?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013 New Years Resolutions Recap

 So I realized it is about end of the year time. Figured I'd see how this years New Years Resolutions turned out. Obviously completed ones will be lined through. Comments will be in italics

Physical:

Maintain a consistent weight lifting program. It wasn't 100% perfect but I have been lifting much more than I have for years. Overall I'll call it a W.

Run over 1,000 miles. Didn't track this honestly. Rough mental math says it was closer to 600.

Ruck at least 1x a week . Didn't do this but have been rucking more consistently than in years so I'll call it a partial W.

Eat reasonably with decent consistency so I don't gain and lose the same weight 2-3 times over the year. Eh did better than the year before so it's something.

Skills/ Training:

Attend a defensive handgun course. Did not happen, tried but things kept falling through. This will roll over to next year with a high probability it will happen.

Attend a trauma based first aid class (I am due for retraining). Negatron.

Work on developing a variety of other skills as they come up by doing as much myself as possible. Did some DIY home stuff which was good. I'll call it a W

Guns and Gun Junk:

Pick up a couple holsters, pouches and assorted other stuff to get squared away for what we have.  I went a long way on this one. It is always a work in progress but a Raven Concealment Vanguard 2 and Safariland 6285 plus the War Belt it lives on were enough to make this a solid W.

Buy 2 cases of .223 ammo. Did not happen, prices are getting better but slower than I figured they would. Ended up buying 7.62x39 instead as it's prices went back to relatively normal faster.

Free float the barrel on project AR. Pending I ordered the rail in July but it hasn't showed up yet. Honestly I'm so angry about the whole thing I don't want to talk about it.

Get more spare parts. Beef up on core stuff (AR's and Glocks) and get some basic stuff for other guns. I got a fair bit of AR parts including a full BCG and a spare buttstock. Will call this a W though the non AR side of the house can still use some love.

Finally get my (already sporterized) 1903 30'06 tapped and mount a scope on it.  Sold the '03 so this one is moot.

If this gun ban madness calms down start building an AR pistol. Parts prices are getting better but I haven't gotten to this one yet. May roll over to next year.

Food:

Build up to a 1 year supply of food for 4 people. We made progress on this one. Not a win but at least a partial one.

Can something. Tried and failed (underestimated the cooking piece, no point canning junk).

Edited to include: Will upgrade this to a partial. Forgot to add that I canned some strawberry jam with an acquaintance. Could definitely repeat the process.

Pursue gardening/ fishing/ hunting as it fits with our environment and life.  Did a fair amount of fishing this late summer/ early fall.

 Energy/ Other:

Get a better solar setup. A bigger panel with a power supply and a few small lights is the answer. Goal 0 makes what I am looking for. It will cost about $400. Probably 500 once I get the lights. This would have gotten purchased late in 2012 but the whole ban madness shifted my priorities elsewhere.
Purchased the Goal 0 setup.

Get licensed to drive a motorcycle. Purchase a used enduro/ adventure touring motorcycle. Nada. Just maybe next year.

Continue putting together and refining our systems. Firm up the bug out bags and the heavy (vehicle) bug out setup. I hesitate to call this one complete as these systems are always evolving but substantial progress was made.

Re look and improve our cache situation. Substantial progress was made here.

Financial:

Continue being debt free and saving. Along these lines continue not doing stupid things. 
We did some saving. Didn't do anything stupid.

Once we are done with the food storage goal get back to putting away some silver and gold. Worked food pretty hard. Did make a small gold and silver purchase when prices went down so technically it was a W.

Long Shots:

Get a DBAL for my AR. Done.

Buy some land (this mostly depends on some other things). Ended up going with the other thing. Will kick this one down the road.


Overall Assessment: Some goals were met, some others were partially met and some fell through the cracks. Overall not too bad.

Due to firearmagedon last year got pretty gun centric. Also if I am being intellectually honest it gave me an excuse to go on a bit of a gun buying spree. Last year I purchased mumble mumble number of guns including the 642, the 870 P and mumble, mumble, mumble.


I also ended up putting away 2 cases of 7.62x39 as I needed it and it was affordable, a fair bit of 12 gauge shotgun shells, several hundred rounds of .22lr and some various other ammo when it was available at sane prices and I had the cash to buy it. Ended up with a few more AR mags and a couple Glock mags also.


We moved into a better place when we got to Louisiana which is really nice. Also put some cash into getting furniture and generally upgrading our household. This isn't prep stuff but the Mrs wanted and deserved some decent stuff. The Broke College Kid home decorating plan stops being cute at some point. Of course we saved up and did it reasonably.

Along these lines we also purchased a large gun safe. An important purchase we've probably been putting off too long. 

A lot of little stuff was purchased towards getting my EDC and fighting loads right.

We got Dog. He's not actually that useful but is large and imposing looking. Odds he'll wake up, let alone eat a burglar are low but we don't actually need that, just need the burglar to go rob somebody else.

That is really all I can think of that happened in terms of preparedness.

On the down side (or not depending on how you look at it) we spent a lot of money. Of course we saved and planned for it but we ended up writing some huge checks. It goes without saying we didn't touch the emergency fund. That being said stuff isn't getting cheaper or better made so getting things we want, within reason, might not be such a bad plan anyway. Honestly limiting the percentage of our resources that is in digital accounts within the interwebz is something I wanted to do anyway.

What did you do to prepare this year?


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week

Got my war belt configuration figured out.

Got firewood. Also a splitting maul and a couple wedges.

Purchased a kerosene heater, 5 gallons of K1 and a spare wick. 

Organizing some more stuff for the cache. It will go out this week.

Purchased a bunch of kiddo go food at Sam's Club.

It was a pretty good week in terms of preparedness. Also got a lot done for our residence. It isn't over yet but we are a lot closer. Hopefully this week (and weekend) the last parts can get done so we can move back to a more normal life balance.

What did you do to prepare this week?


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Small Heaters; Kerosene or Propane?

I'm looking to purchase a small heater. It's uses would be as an alternate heating source for whatever events might come. I've pretty much narrowed it down to the Mr Buddy type propane heater with an adapter to connect to a 5 gallon propane bottle (instead of the tiny disposable bottles) or some sort of kerosene heater.

Propane has a slight edge as it's a fuel we already stock for the ambiguous Coleman stove and lantern plus BBQ. However the (admittedly one time) cost of 2 more bottles is a factor.

On the other hand Kerosene does not have that cost and it will work in our hurricane lantern as well as my multi fuel camping stoves. My folks had these heaters when I was a kid, both to add predictability to winter heating expenses and for emergencies. Generally they worked quite well though are more suited for occasional/ emergency use than several hours a day all winter long.

Open to your thoughts before making a purchase.

As always please separate input based on personal experiences from 3rd hand and internet type stuff. Thanks

Monday, April 15, 2013

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

I'm still working on cleaning up a gun. Slowly but surely just soaking with WD-40, wiping and repeating every day or so is getting the last couple rough spots cleaned up. Ordered a more robust solar setup which is something that has been on the list for awhile now. Will write more about it down the road sometime. Put some seedlings into containers in the garden. The beans seem to be thriving, unsure about the lettuce and spinach as of now.

Other than that not a ton going on here. What did you do to prepare this week?

Friday, March 15, 2013

New Years Resolutions- Finalized a bit late



I dropped some draft goals awhile back and was recently reminded of them. It is high time I solidify them.

Physical:

Maintain a consistent weight lifting program.

Run a half marathon (I changed to this because it's March and I haven't tracked mileage which was a big fat fail)



Continue working on barefoot running towards the goal of running on a  variety of terrain up to 5k barefoot

Transition to running fully in minimalist shoes

Ruck at least 1x a week

Eat reasonably with decent consistency so I don't gain and lose the same weight 2-3 times over the year.

Skills/ Training:

Attend a defensive handgun course.

Work on developing a variety of other skills as they come up by doing as much myself as possible.

Guns and Gun Junk:

Pick up a couple holsters and assorted other stuff to get squared away for what we have. (Specifically a nice Bravo or Raven concealment kydex holster for the Glock with TLR-1, a good OWB holster for the J frame, and an ankle holster.)

Purchase a DBAL and free float the barrel on project AR.  (The DBAL is almost funded I just need to do a bit more research then pull the trigger.)


Finally complete Project 870. At least the tube extension and sling. The light angle I've got to do some thinking on.

Get more spare parts. Beef up on core stuff (AR's and Glocks) and get some basic stuff (firing pin, extractor, ejector, springs, pins, etc) for other guns.

Finally get my (already sporterized) 1903 30'06 tapped and mount a scope on it.

If things work out and decent deals come along I would like to get a single shot 12 gauge and another .22 rifle. 

Subcategory Ammo: I am only doing this if prices get back to normalish. Would take my best whack at it and if I get half done be happy.
5k .22lr
1k 9mm
1k 12 gauge (mixed about 400 buck, 100 slug and 500 mixed small game loads)
2k .223


Food:

Build up to a 1 year supply of food for 4 people.

Can something

Continue with my garden this year.

Pursue fishing/ hunting as it fits with our environment and life. 

 Energy/ Other:

Get a better solar setup. A bigger panel with a power supply and a few small lights is the answer. Goal 0 makes what I am looking for. It will cost about $400. Probably 500 once I get the lights. This would have gotten purchased late in 2012 but the whole ban madness shifted my priorities elsewhere.

Get licensed to drive a motorcycle. Maybe purchase a used enduro/ adventure touring motorcycle.

Continue putting together and refining our systems. Firm up the bug out bags and the heavy (vehicle) bug out setup.

Re look and improve our cache situation.

Financial:

Continue being debt free and saving. Along these lines continue not doing stupid things. 

If we reach our food storage goal get back to putting away some silver and gold.

Long Shots:


Start on the AR Pistol.

Buy some land (this mostly depends on some other things).

As always input is welcome. It would be fairly useful now before these resolutions are solidified. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Reader Question: Goal 0 Yetti 150 Solar Charger

Anybody have personal experience with Goal 0 equipment? What about the new Yetti 150 Solar charger? If so please chine in with your thoughts. Thanks,
R

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sun Oven In Progress Review

Since we are in Arizona, the land of the eternal sun there are a lot of opportunities to play with the Sun Oven.The picture is not mine I shamelessly stole it from this gal who uses her Sun Oven to make bread.

First it is worthwhile to talk a little bit about the Sun Oven. Here are some basic stats. The SUN OVEN is 19” x 19” with an average depth of 11”. The total weight is only 21 pounds. The back of the outside outer box is 14″ high and the front of the outer box is 9″ high. The back of the oven chamber is 11″ high and the front is 7″ high, with an average depth of 9″. The door opening for the oven chamber is 14″ in diameter. When opened the reflectors are 32″ in diameter.

The following materials used to make a SUN OVEN®:
Reflectors Anodized aluminum (which will never oxidize, rust or corrode)
Outer shell ABS plastic
Bezel Poplar wood (kiln dried)
Inner shell Anodized aluminum
Door Tempered glass
Between the aluminum inner shell and the plastic outer shell there is a thick batt of food grade fiberglass insulation.

The fit and finish are very nice.

Using the Sun Oven is fairly easy if you read the instructions and watch the videos. However if you do not do those things it is much harder. Don't ask how I know this. It is really important to position the Sun Oven properly. It needs to be facing the sun or slightly ahead of it and the elevation needs to be adjusted so as much sun is hitting the inside of the oven as possible.

Today I did a test to see how the Sun Oven does at getting up to real cooking temperatures. After setting it up I started a timer. After 15 minutes the temp in the Sun Oven was a bit above 300 degrees. At the half hour mark it was sitting at about 340. At the hour mark it reached a peak at 360. The temp would slip down a little bit when the sun moved away before time to adjust it. Someplace on the website I read that they recommend checking it every half hour and making a minor adjustment to keep it in the suns path. Also some folks will position their ovens so they will get the prime afternoon sun and go to work leaving the oven to do it's thing.

It is a bit early for a review but we will use the same format to discuss initial experiences and impressions.

The Good: A well made product. Some folks use theirs regularly for years. There isn't really anything on it that could break through normal use (obviously if you run it over with a truck or something that is an issue) which would not be easy to fix.

Capable of cooking using the power of the sun so it will not run out of fuel. Being able to bake and do the kind of long duration cooking that will just suck fuel on a Coleman stove is really nice. Like a lot of folks right now we do not have a wood stove, let alone one with an oven. We will not necessarily have one all the time (we are semi nomadic due to my job) until we settle down. A solar oven goes a long way towards filling that niche.

The Bad:

The Sun Oven does have some downsides. It is fairly large at 19"x19"x12"ish. You could fill the inside space with anything light like clothes or bedding but the thing is still pretty big.

Weather is a consideration. I am not exactly sure how much sun these ovens need to work but they do need some. Folks in perpetually overcast places might want to do some research before making a purchase.

Also Sun Ovens are not cheap. I think for the right person in the right climate they could definitely pay for themselves in normal times and be priceless in an emergency situation. On the other hand it would be a pretty expensive item to purchase and have just sit around.

There is a learning curve with solar cooking. You really do not want to try it for the first time when normal options are not available and wasting or ruining food is a serious problem. This is something that pretty much needs to get figured out before you need it.

The Ugly: No ugly at this time.

Discussion:

I see a couple real roles for the Sun Oven.  The first is as a way to save some money on the old gas/ electric bill. Along these lines it is just fun to fiddle around with. The second is as a way to cook in a set location be it a retreat or home or whatever. Being able to bake without an oven would be really nice in such a scenario. This oven could be the difference between having mediocre flat bread as your staple and real genuine bread. It is not really so good for a bug out type situation but in a basecamp or home type situation it has real potential to be an important part of ones cooking plans.

It is true that there are other solar cooking methods including DIY projects based on cardboard boxes and aluminum foil. The Sun Oven folks put a lot of time and energy into making that thing gather and hold as much heat as it can. They are really efficient which means you get more cooking out of the available sun than a less efficient solar cooker.

I think deciding if a sun oven is for you or if you should go another way depends a lot on what you want a solar cooker to do. If it is going to be a novelty you want to play with once or twice then a Sun Oven would be a hard sell. On the other hand if you are looking at a solar cooker being a key part of your overall cooking plans do you really want to be relying on a cardboard box and some aluminum foil?

As I start cooking with the Sun Oven we will talk about it more. Hopefully some of that will happen this coming week.







Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Guest Post: The Case for Cheap Led's

Hey Ryan, glad that you made it back to the US and that your family is doing well and is ever-expanding. I wrote you a while back about experimenting with the Walmart LED landscape lights as a backup light source:

Not wanting to spend $200 plus on a solar charger and LED lighting system, I decided to experiment with some alternatives. I bought a couple of the LED lights with solar chargers on them. Both of the types were found at Wally-World on the cheap( Ryan, I think I sent the first message last fall). I paid $3 for the little single LED light and about $5-8 for the large 3 LED spotlight. My thoughts were to have a functioning part of daily life have a dual role in case of an emergency.

What I found was interesting. On the little guy, if you twist the cap a half-turn, the top comes off. This is the guts of the whole light. The solar charger is on top and the LED on the bottom. Second, I noticed a battery door with a Phillips-head screw in it. After this was opened, I discovered a AA rechargeable battery ran the whole thing. BONUS! When I took the top in the house and walked from room to room with the single lumen, it lit a room fine. Of course it was dim but it was great for just illuminating the room. I found it worked even better if I reached up and set the light down on top of a ceiling fan blade. Months after starting the experiment, the little guy still stays lit until sometime after I go to bead.

The big-guy didn't do as well. It was sealed at the battery box and didn't last nearly as long- even on day one. Part two was a functional failure before it even got started.

In the end, I found the cheap single lumen landscape lights a viable dual function survival tool that keeps itself charged at all times and stays in the front yard until the lights go out. It then gets un-capped and brought in to supplement the lanterns and candles. The kids can't burn the house down and it also keeps some recharged AA batteries around....no matter what I have forgot to buy or keep charged. My next plan is to grab about 5-10 of these and take the batteries out of them. I'll store them in the Lights-Out box in the basement so that I can go put the batteries in them and stake them in to the ground if it looks like the power will be out more than one night. I also want to try putting a couple of lights under the one that is on and see what it takes to trip them on and off using each other's light. I want to try and make a daisy-chain of the lights that will turn each other on as the one before it runs out of juice. Total cost $3 to infinity. 

Thanks, Man 
Take care and post this some time you need a break!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Winning and Losing: Eating Well, Couch to 5k, Berkey Water Filter and Solar Power

We have been making some changes lately. We have started eating a lot better. More fresh fruit and veggies, lean protien and better carbs. Less eating out, just plain junk and carbtastic blah meals. Most of it is pretty intuitive. If there are not chips in the house you won't eat chips. Having some discipline and not going out to eat every time we feel like it and that sort of thing. The carb thing is kind of a grey area with lots of folks taking different views. We have both tried the super low/ no carb thing before and it doesn't work for us. She just hates it and I am tired and weak all the time. Instead we are trying to eat more reasonable portions of wheat bread or tortillas and brown rice. Just avoiding the huge bowl of white rice or plate of pasta kind of meals. We both feel a lot better and are getting healthier.
Wifey has been doing Couch to 5k. She is midway through week 6 right now. While she, like many people, does not currently and probably never will like running it is working for her. She noticed that dragging the kid up stairs has gotten easier. I would say this is a real good program for lots of people to seriously look at. If you are a fairly healthy person who is of a reasonable (like not morbidly obese) body weight but have not been very physically active this is a great way to get back to it. Toss in some sort of weight training program and you will be good to go. If you are seriously overweight or woefully out of shape it might be wise to do some sort of build up to this program, like eating reasonably and walking 1-2 times a day several days a week for a month or two to build up some conditioning and drop some fat. As always everybody should consult a general practice doctor, a dietitian, a cardiologist and a physical therapist before any sort of change to their diet or beginning any exercise program.

Personally I am cutting back to 2 times at the weight pile a week and upping my conditioning. Still doing the big lifts, just a bit more geared toward holding what I've got while conditioning gets tightened up. The human body only has so much work capacity and most of us only have so much time so there is a sort of push/ pull relationship. If you add or up the intensity in one thing you are going to almost inevitably lose ground in some other. Also inherantly between weight training and running/ cardio/ conditioning there is an inherant trade off. It isn't a bad thing really, especially for someone without many sport specific goals. Unless you plan to be a competitive marathoner or powerlifter it really isn't an issue.

On the downside our Berkey water filter is currently deadlined. I couldn't get it to seal and pass the dye test then (maybe while slightly frusterated;) I broke one of the white plastic nut/ bolt combo's that seal up the holes without an element in it while putting it back on. So I am not sure what exactly was wrong but now there is a new problem to deal with. Talk about not moving in the right direction!

This happened about three weeks ago and I put it away in frustration. I am going to get a replacement nut/ bolt and some more elements (either to replace the faulty ones or as spares) then go from there. On the bright side the good folks at Directive 21 have been great in helping me trouble shoot things and have just been a huge help with this. If I weren't such a slacking procrastinator this problem would likely already be fixed. Had I bought our Berkey from some no name fly by night folks who knows where I would be.  There are no problems that money (hopefully not very much, I really want it to be just the washer, not the element(s)!) and time can't fix. It hasn't been a huge concern because we have another water filter. Maybe there is a lesson there.

On a nice sunny day recently I busted out my little solar charger. I fiddled with it until I had a decent idea how it was supposed to work and then plugged in my kindle. After several hours in direct sunlight nothing happened and my dead kindle was still dead. This lead to a good amount of not very nice language.

 I realised a few things from this. First of all I do not know anywhere near enough about electricity. Second since we have added all sort of stuff, some pure entertainment and some useful since picking this charger up we may have already outgrown it. Third I need to test it at it's primary purpose which will be charging AA and AAA sized batteries. I am waiting for a sunny day when I have time to mess with it. Another more substantial (probably 15-26 watts) portable solar charger and maybe some sort of battery bank could be in order. However I have to do some more testing and become a more educated consumer before putting something else onto the wish list. If anybody has good resources to check out on this front I would be interested. Specifically good primers on electricity in general and a good breakdown of what watt/ size pannels can charge what sort of stuff and in how long would be great.

These two events were pretty frusterating for me. Nothing like having to go back to the drawing board or adding something else to the shopping list in an area where you thought things were good. Then again testing stuff is a good thing, even if you don't get the answers that you would like. Far better to have issues now, with the worst case being spending a little bit of money (water filter) or adjusting my expectations and maybe searching for a new piece of gear (solar charger), then some time down the road during an emergency when I need this stuff to work.

I guess the closing point is to look at eating healthier, getting into better shape plus alsp really start testing and retesting your equipment. Odds are something that should work might not.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Quote of the Day

"The issue as I see it is that American liberals are anti energy or at least any functional and viable forms of energy. They don't like coal or oil and I can kind of get that. However they also do not like nuclear energy. Electric cars are ...just about the stupidest thing out there because most electricity comes from coal or diesel powered generators. I would be for some kind of policy that would lead to enviornmentally friendly energy independence if it is a serious conversation. Wind and solar are great but they can only meet a tiny percentage of our total energy use. One might as well say that homes will be powered by rainbows and gum drops."
 
-Me

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wyoming House advances doomsday bill

House Bill 85 passed on first reading by a voice vote. It would create a state-run government continuity task force, which would study and prepare Wyoming for potential catastrophes, from disruptions in food and energy supplies to a complete meltdown of the federal government.


The task force would look at the feasibility of:


Wyoming issuing its own alternative currency, if needed. And House members approved an amendment Friday by state Rep. Kermit Brown, R-Laramie, to have the task force also examine conditions under which Wyoming would need to implement its own military draft, raise a standing army, and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier.


The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. David Miller, R-Riverton, has said he doesn’t anticipate any major crises hitting America anytime soon. But with the national debt exceeding $15 trillion and protest movements growing around the country, Miller said Wyoming — which has a comparatively good economy and sound state finances — needs to make sure it’s protected should any unexpected emergency hit the U.S.
Several House members spoke in favor of the legislation, saying there was no harm in preparing for the worst.


“I don’t think there’s anyone in this room today what would come up here and say that this country is in good shape, that the world is stable and in good shape — because that is clearly not the case,” state Rep. Lorraine Quarberg, R-Thermopolis, said. “To put your head in the sand and think that nothing bad’s going to happen, and that we have no obligation to the citizens of the state of Wyoming to at least have the discussion, is not healthy.”

Read more here.
 
It seems like a pretty solid plan. My only question is what would Wyoming, which unless my state geography is seriously off is landlocked, would do with an aircraft carrier.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Small Solar Setups

I got an email about this today. It mentioned those solar yard lights as an idea. In my personal experience and from what I have read they are not an impressive product. They are a great idea but it just doesn't seem to work. Personally for a budget alternative energy setup I got some rechargeable batteries and a solar charger for them. I think the cost was somewhere around $200-250. For lighting I would use them to feed a couple of LED lanterns and some flashlights. In a couple years when I upgrade I will get a couple solar panels, some deep cycle batteries and a few LED lights.

Anyway those are my .02 cents on that.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

I am just not sure when it comes to precious metals these days. I see definite shades of 1980 in the charts and buying at the top of the market is bad. On the other hand it may be different because of our insane monetary policy and other factors. Prices could continue to climb and stay high for many years so I may start getting priced out of the market entirely. Right now I see the up side for silver being better than gold. I am still buying but am not going to increase my contributions any. This week silver dipped some and I was able to pick up a roll of 90% quarters and another of dimes. It was money from last year so I guess I was a bit closer to last years PM goal then I thought. Or we could say this year is getting off to a great start.

We also picked up a snow shovel to keep in our vehicle. Wifey got a lightly used Helly Hansen waterproof shell type coat at the used stuff store for like 18 bucks. She needed a waterproof coat with a hood and even if she had 3 that was too good of a deal to pass up.

I also got started using my Kindle. Downloaded a bunch of public domain books. Got the Gibbons I plan to read as well as some Shirlock Holmes and The Count of Monte Cristo. Next I am going to get military manuals and survival type PDF's. A solar charger would greatly aid in its prep utility and is worth at least looking into.

It has been a pretty crazy week here with getting back home from the holidays and me jumping back into work. We are probably still feeling the after effects of jet lag and all that. I cooked dinner yesterday and incorporated a bunch of cans of stuff we have had lying around. There were some substitutions but it turned out well.

Next week I am going to try and get through more of The Bear Went Over The Mountain. It is very interesting if dry at times. Also I am going to get some more stuff to put on the Kindle.

Got emergency seeds? If you don't you probably should.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Political Views vs Real Life

I think we Americans do ourselves a great disservice by the artificial divides of political labels and parties. While the liberal vetting criteria of abortion or the conservative litmus test of the Second Amendment are meaningful in their own right's we get too carried away with them. This is seriously to our detriment as individuals and works into the hands of the political power structure.

For example Miley is visiting us. If we looked at the two of us in terms of political labels or parties we would be polar opposites. However lets set abortions and guns aside for a minute. We are both personally quite frugal. Saving and planning are a big part of our respective lifestyles and long term plan. We like getting very cheap or free stuff whenever possible. We cook staple foods.We like doing things ourselves. For slightly different reasons alternative energy interests both of us.

Interestingly enough she has expressed some interest in setting up a serious pantry. It is quite possible that she and her husband, who I haven't came up with a blog name for yet, will become part of our long term preparedness plans. She can cook, sew, garden, etc and he is quite handy in all sorts of ways. Assuming they contributed to a solid logistical footing (really a prerequisite for anybody, no point in having a big starving party) they would be enjoyable and useful folks to have around.

I recall somebody once saying that if the far left and right every get together and realize they have more in common with each other then the center, the center will be in trouble. I don't know if that is totally true. Some differences are probably irreconcilable between the two. However some elements of them might have a heck of a lot more in common than previously thought.

Don't worry about someones political views or identity. Focus on how they conduct themselves in the world and towards you and yours. Good honest hardworking people have all kinds of political views just the same way that lazy people and moochers can. Especially in personal interactions and preparedness planning a person's view on a theoretical political issue doesn't matter (if at all) anywhere as much as their personal conduct.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Not Good, Just Less Bad

I saw something interesting on the yahoo main page today. It is an article called The Myth of Good Debt. Certainly it is good for a coffee break or a few minutes of internet time wasting.

The whole subject of "good debt" vs bad debt has always kind of bothered me. Plain and simple debt is bad. You are promising future earnings for something now. You are almost surely paying interest for this service.

To be honest I think it is more like kind of bad debt and really bad debt. I would characterize home mortgages and education is kind of bad and consumer debt, credit cards, car loans and the like and really bad debt. The label good implies that it is smart to have this debt and it does great things for you. Sometimes that is right. In particular getting a college degree greatly increases (on average) your earning power. If you could figure a way to get through school with no debt or low debt that is ideal. However since educational costs have increased greatly beyond inflation or typical low level (working your way through school type job) wages that isn't always realistic.

Tangent begins- Also I would submit to some people that working your way through school at a low paying job and taking classes part time isn't the best route anyway. I have known a lot of people who had significant life problems as well as academic difficulties that lead to them not finishing school. They take a class here and another there and periodically have to drop out due to life reasons or even fail classes. Screwing up and not getting to a place where they can earn a comfortably livable wage and then continuing to earn 7-12 bucks an hour is pretty common. These folks then whine about how life is so hard and it isn't fair and generally have a long term pity party. What would often be a better course of action is to decrease their lifestyle if applicable, work less and borrow just enough to make up the difference. The difference between going to school and working 12-20 hours a week or 30-40 is huge. At minimum wage or close the amount of money we are talking about isn't that big. They could focus on school more and get it done at a decent pace. It probably will not be too hard to pay back said money with their increased future earnings. This is basically what I did and while I should have borrowed a bit less lived a bit cheaper it has worked out pretty well for us so far. End tangent.

With educational expenses should come degrees or certifications that significantly boost your earning power. I have got news for everybody. The days when a guy could graduate high school and  fall into a comfortably paying job doing work trained monkeys could do are over. We could talk about why this has happened but it doesn't change that it has. Especially with today's economy and jobs being scare you need to be marketable.

Mortgages are slightly worse than educational expenses IMO. I say this is because they do not have the same kind of exponential payoff as education (if properly targeted and used). Also the returns are generally less of a sure thing. House prices have a great long term track record but the short-mid term can be wild.

It would take a really long time for most people to save the cash to buy a traditional home outright. There are certainly some benefits to alternative housing but if you don't want to go that way the options are saving a lot of money for a very long time or getting a mortgage. Certainly paying the landlords mortgage for decades instead of your own and not getting the tax benefits or the appreciation in value doesn't make any sort of sense.

Getting a decent fixed mortgage you can actually afford on a home makes good sense for somebody in a stable financial place with some savings. As you noticed that sentence was kind of complicated. Maybe adjustable rate type mortgages or other exotic options make sense for some smart people in some situations. However for most people they are a horrible decision. If you can't afford a fixed rate it means you can't afford the home. Stability is very important as even short mortgages last many years and you need to be able to make that payment every month. Personally I have seen a lot of people get into trouble when they happen to get a job that pays somewhat better than they can expect elsewhere, 10 dollar an hour type guy earning 13 or a job that pays 70k instead of 55. The issue comes when they get a loan they can afford at their current higher wages and for whatever reason (laid off, fired, decide to change fields, etc) they end up changing jobs. Think about how much you could make at another job. Also having a safety net in the form of an emergency fund is essential. You've got to be able to deal with that month the car breaks or being out of work for awhile. I think Chief Instructor said once that a month of looking for every ten thousand dollars in salary is a guideline.

Part of my concern is that the concept of "good debt" leads to an attitude that having this debt is normal and even smart. Yeah it smart to increase your earning power with a degree and eventually purchase a home. However it is really smart to pay off that student loan as fast as possible and in time the home too. Having a mortgage (for the right person) beats the heck out of renting but owning a home free and clear beats the heck out of having a mortgage. I think it is also worth noting that if you buy a modest home you can actually afford paying it off at an accelerated rate is probably realistic. If you get absolutely as much home as you can make the payments on of course it isn't realistic to pay 10, 20, 50 or even 100% extra principle payments.

Cars I would classify as the best or most understandable of the "bad debt". Buying cars with cash is ideal. However "clunkers" can have some real problems. Some folks are good at fixing cars or just lucky and others have horrible luck. Often clunkers are unreliable and just $400 the heck out of you until they die. Basically if you aren't able to save a decent bit of cash and need a car for transportation you're pretty much stuck getting a loan. The real problem is how expensive of a car you get. For example awhile back my little sister found herself needing a decent reliable car. She went and got a loan to pay for a few year old basic car. Not a junker but also not new or fancy or anything like that. She paid it off faster than the loans planned life and still drives it. You need reliable transportation, not a new Mercedes. Look at it this way. If you can't afford to pay cash it means you aren't in a great spot for getting this car so be reasonable.

Consumer loans and credit card debt and such are just bad. The best case is that you use these as a sort of emergency fund because you haven't saved a couple months worth of expenses. This is bad because if you can't afford this stuff now why would you think it will be easier to afford later. I am a realist and I know things happen. I can also note that for some strange reason things seem to happen a lot more to folks who do not have emergency funds. Some unforeseen stuff comes up that has to happen right away. Replacing a key household appliance is a good example. Lets say your washer goes out. You get a new one from Sears and finance it then pay it off over a couple paychecks. Not insane. [However what if something bigger happens. Putting a months worth of living expenses from some down time at work on a credit card could take forever to dig out of. ] However using consumer loans to get all new appliances you don't really need for the whole house is insane.

My observation is that people rarely get into consumer or credit card debt trouble because of using them to ride out an emergency. People get into trouble here by using credit to live beyond their means buying this and that and the other thing which they can't afford and almost certainly don't need.

Sometimes debt makes sense. It can be understandable and even a good decision. However do not forget that at the end of the day no matter how "good" debt is it's still a promise of money you haven't even earned yet. Use it responsibly and try to get out of it as quickly as possible.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Stop Backing Yourself Into a Corner

One of the wonderful things about America is that it is a very free country. Maybe not quite as free as it was at some other point but people living in the good ole USA have more rights, protections and freedom to do what they please than in just about every other country in the world.

So often people back themselves into a corner in terms of lifestyle and the resulting debt/ expenses. They have to live in this kind of house, drive this type of vehicle (or even a vehicle at all), charge stuff they can't afford and whatever. The result is that they are in an uncomfortable situation. These folks often turn around and blame everybody but themselves for their circumstances. It is a big picture version of eating a big mac and extra jumbo fries with a large milkshake for lunch every day and blaming other people for why you are fat.

If you don't like the amount of money you can make then get a degree or some certification or skill to become more valuable to an employer or customer. It is a lot more productive than whining. If you do not want a mortgage then find some kind of alternate housing you can afford to pay cash for. Maybe get a little piece of land paid for free and clear. Hate the idea of an HOA then don't buy a house in one. If zoning restrictions in your current location prevent this kind of action and you really still want to do it then MOVE to somewhere you can do what you want. If you want to home school your kids then move to a home school friendly area. Don't like the tax laws in your state? Move to a different one. Don't like your city/ states gun laws? Vote with your feet. If you want to be able to shoot an AK-47 from the front porch naked at 3 in the morning then start in a state that is cool with the AK-47 and then find a place with no nearby neighbors. If you don't want to deal with car insurance, registration and such then don't have a car. Live within biking/ walking range or public transport routes to the places you need to go. Maybe arrange to go to Costco with a cool neighbor who has a big van every month or two. If you don't want a credit card then don't have one. Don't like debt; too easy simply do not borrow money from anybody. If you hate paying taxes then make conscious (legal of course) choices to limit your tax liability.  This is checkers, not chess. Simply make choices to not be involved in things you don't want to be involved with and to be in the situation you want to be in. 

Of course because this is simple doesn't mean it is easy. Just like dieting or household budgets knowing what you should do and easy implimentation are very different things. Every decision has second and third order effects. You might like some parts of an area (family, work, recreation, etc) and hate the restrictive laws. Not having a vehicle sucks but you don't need insurance or vehicle inspections. Living in a nice house is more spacious and comfortable than a travel trailer or a shack/ tent. Generally places where you can buy a piece of land for the price of a decent pistol and do whatever you want on it kind of suck. They are far from jobs, may not have water or are otherwise undesirable. Hence the name junk land.

The thing is that you have to make a choice as to what is more important. Often nice places to live where there are plenty of good jobs and fun things to do have expensive housing costs. So either move to a place where you can afford to live comfortably or stay where you are and gripe about the rent/ mortgage/ taxes.

The old saying about construction comes to mind; a job can be done fast, cheap and right but you only get to pick two of them. Inevitably there are difficult choices and compromises to be made on all fronts (housing, location, work, vehicles, debt, tax and gun laws, zoning, etc).

The important word in that last paragraph is CHOICES. I'm not telling you that you must do anything (though it would be nice if you clicked on one of our ads and suggested the blog to a friend;) but am telling you that you can choose. The real interesting part is that this stuff can snowball big time. If you don't need to make a big rent/ mortgage payment then maybe you can quit that horrible job. You could then try a business idea that has been in your head for awhile. If you don't need to impress people at that fancy job then maybe an older paid off vehicle (or no vehicle at all) will work just fine. With all that time you aren't at work all kinds of things could be done.

Take some responsibility and ownership over your life. Figure out what is really important to you. Think outside the box and focus on what is important to you and your family, not the Johnson's, or anybody else. Make the inevitable hard choices and create the kind of life that you really want to have.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Peak Oil

World Made By Hand and the writings of our buddy in a trailer in Nevada have made me see peak oil differently over the past few months. I am starting to see why people worry. Though maybe for different reasons.

There is so much hype and "science" around this topic that I am not even going to look at that perspective. Lets just for the sake of the discussion agree that there is probably a pretty finite (or slow repleting) supply of oil and sooner or later we will start to run out of the stuff. Personally I do not think this would lead to a Mad Max type situation.

Human beings have long been able to adapt to a new situation by using technology. I have thin skin, no fur and modest fat reserves but live pretty comfortably in a place where there is regular snow for about 4 months of the year. How do I do this? I live in a warm place and wear heavy clothes when I go outside. Our capacity to create technology that allows us to survive, if not live comfortably in many austere environments.

People talk about how X amount of oil is needed to produce or transport food and a sure reason everybody would die if we got more than 12 fewer barrels of oil next year than we did this one. I just don't see that happening. We have other means of providing energy to do all sorts of nifty things energy does. Most of the reason we use oil so widely is that it is so cheap that other alternatives are not currently cost effective. Interestingly that flows well into my next thought.

I am not particularly concerned that the world will get sucked into endless resource wars to the bottom or everybody will starve to death. However I do have serious concerns about what this would do to our economic model. Obviously JIT delivery and shipping goods incredible distances would no longer be effective, maybe even for the better. However if the price of energy skyrocketed it would drag the price of everything else up as well. From heating a home to buying food and manufactured goods prices would really hurt people. This would in turn lead to more unemployment and pretty quickly a sort of vicious cycle of taxation, increasing costs and rising unemployment.

I don't know what this world would turn out to be but I imagine it would take a serious turn for the unpleasant somewhere.

In the grand scheme of things peak oil is low on my list of concerns. Somewhere in the area of hyperinflation or a global pandemic and just above zombies or the UN invading America. How am I preparing for this? Well the general food, water, medicine, arms stuff covers a lot. Also I am slowly but surely working to acquire the skills (and stuff to make the skills work) so that I can have a couple back up career options.

Thought?

Popular Posts